Dayton asks federal government for storm loans
ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton wants the federal Small Business Administration to make low-interest loans available to repair homes and businesses and businesses damaged by storms and flooding in June.
Meanwhile, state leaders are aiming for a special legislative session Aug. 24 to deal with disaster aid.
The governor said he hopes to have a written agreement among him and four legislative leaders Friday or by early next week at the latest that says the special session only will deal with disaster-relief legislation.
“I believe we are on track,” he said about the Aug. 24 session, but a legislative meeting Thursday will provide a better prediction.
Dayton wants the state to chip in $190 million for disaster relief, a number that Republicans said brought sticker shock. On Wednesday, Dayton said he would not insist on a specific number, but warned that if lawmakers approve too little money they would be held accountable “in the court of public opinion.”
The SBA loan request is for St. Louis, Carlton and Pine and adjoining counties and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
His request Wednesday comes after the federal government rejected his request for individual assistance for storm victims. Dayton appealed that decision, but the appeal was denied last week. The president did declare those and other counties disaster areas, but that only provides federal money to governments, not businesses or individuals.
To get the SBA help, Dayton certified that at least 25 homes and businesses sustained uninsured loses of at least 40 percent of their value.
June floods caused millions of dollars worth of damage in northeastern Minnesota, with less reported in other parts of the state. Federal officials said home and business damage did not meet requirements for federal aid.
July wind storms in parts of Minnesota also caused considerable damage, which may be addressed in the special session.
Some state leaders say they want to include individual relief in the package, but others say that has not been done in past disasters.
Dayton told reporters that he invited legislative leaders a month ago to meetings to begin planning a disaster bill. He said he is disappointed they did not accept.